Scientist

Dementia and Hearing Loss

The brain plays a vital role in good hearing. As well as perfectly functioning ears, you need a healthy brain to be able to interpret the messages it receives from them. Some research suggests that the physical damage caused by Alzheimer's and other dementias may affect the brain’s ability to process auditory information.

Several studies have shown a link between hearing loss and the likelihood of dementia. It’s not yet clear what’s behind this link, and research is vital to understand this better.


Why is it important to treat hearing loss early?

  • Research has suggested that people with higher levels of ‘cognitive reserve’ may be more able to withstand damage to the brain caused by diseases like Alzheimer’s for longer. However, it may be that the extra mental effort needed to cope with hearing loss could leave people with less cognitive reserve.
  • For some people, problems with hearing may lead to social isolation or depression, both of which have also been linked to an increased risk of dementia. On the flip-side of this, research suggests that staying socially active and engaged may help lower the risk of dementia. Difficulties with hearing could be a barrier to this, so it’s important for hearing loss to be treated to help people stay socially connected.
  • For people who have dementia, hearing loss may compound any confusion and communication difficulties they may be experiencing as a result of their dementia.

 

How will Hidden Hearing's fundraising help?

Hidden Hearing is helping Alzheimer's Research UK to support groundbreaking research into dementia with Lewy bodies which is taking place at the University of Newcastle.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies is a common cause of dementia, but remains poorly understood compared to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. People with Lewy Body dementia have very different symptoms to those with other dementias, including disturbing auditory and visual hallucinations, and disruption of language expression and comprehension (for example understanding high level processing of auditory input like speech).

The study will investigate how changes in the connections between different brain regions that may be involved in these symptoms, helping inform new treatment approaches.

Read a press-release about the study here.


Questions about dementia research?

Then give our Dementia Research Infoline a call on 0300 111 5 111 or email infoline@alzheimersresearchuk.org

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